Weekend trip - Phoenix to Vegas via the Grand Canyon
I am going to be in the Phoenix area on business this week and was planning to drive down from there to Vegas. I am leaving Phoenix on Friday morning, spending the night at the Grand Canyon and then leaving Saturday morning/afternoon to Las Vegas. I realize it's a rushed trip but unfortunately I have time constraints.
I want to make the most of my time. Any suggestions would be really appreciated. Thanks a lot in advance.
The first thing you do...
... have breakfast at the 4B's Cafe in Black Canyon City. It is about 40 miles north of Phoenix on I-17. Continue north about 15 miles (or so) to SR69 -- take that to Prescott and pick up north SR89 to Ash Fork and I-40 to Williams, then SR64 to the Grand Canyon. One fun stop along the way is the Planes of Fame Museum at Valle (which is at the jct of US180 and SR64. When you arrive at Tusayan (just south of the park entrance), stop at the IMAX theater and see the film -- then continue on into the park. For only one afternoon, I'd see the East Rim drive out to the Desert View watchtower, or alternatively, you could take the shorter west rim drive to Hermit's Rest. I like the views from the east rim drive better -- but it is hard to beat ANY of the views of the Canyon from either side. About 45 minutes before sunset, find yourself a perch on the edge somewhere and just SIT there -- and watch the changes come over the Canyon. Have dinner at the El Tovar Hotel (reservations are recommended) or at the Arizona Room (Bright Angel Lodge, no reservations). Both are first rate dining experiences!
On Saturday AM, if you can afford an hour, another great experience is the air tour of the Canyon -- for fixed wing, it is $75 or so, and helicopter is a bit more. I waited 35 years before I finally did this -- and I can't believe I waited so long. I'm a pilot myself, but these guys go BELOW the rim -- which "civilians" like me can't do anymore. It's well worth the cost.
Leave the Canyon back south on SR64 to Williams -- have lunch at Rod's Steakhouse, a Williams family-owned tradition! Then, take I-40 to Seligman, and <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/drives/Arizona-Route-66.htm">old US66<a/> from Seligman to Kingman. This two-lane road is lightly traveled but in good condition -- and the northern AZ high desert ranch country is beautiful.
From Kingman, you can get to Las Vegas over Hoover Dam on US93, or cross the river at Laughlin, and take the "back" road into town (US95). I prefer the second route -- especially now while construction is causing occasional snags and slow-downs around the dam.
Or, for a magnificant alternative altogether, take SR64 east out of Grand Canyon, seeing the East Rim drive as you go, and at Cameron, take US89 north and either US89 or 89A and the appropriate state roads over to Hurricane and St George, then into Las Vegas on I-15.
From Grand Canyon, if you take the old 66 route -- it's about 300 miles and 6 hours. The route through Cameron and Hurricane is longer, at 391 miles and about 7 hours driving -- and if you are really in a hurry, just use I-40 (skip old 66) and you can do the trip in 5 hours (282 miles).